I’m poor. If you’ve read any of my other articles, you’ve probably noticed I’ve never swilled brandy at a yacht club or sucked down Rob Roys in a ball room with a diamond chandelier (people still do that, right?). Instead, I’m a professional at being poor, sticking to regular-class taverns and pubs and the occasional […]
I’m poor. If you’ve read any of my other articles, you’ve probably noticed I’ve never swilled brandy at a yacht club or sucked down Rob Roys in a ball room with a diamond chandelier (people still do that, right?).
Instead, I’m a professional at being poor, sticking to regular-class taverns and pubs and the occasional glow-stick dance rave (one of those is a lie). The sad reality is it’s becoming pretty standard for a lot of us. Those who graduated from college recently realized their degrees didn’t land them six-figure salaries, took jobs as clerks at Target, and have been agonizingly plodding ever since. (Could I have expected any less, though, with a BFA?)
Now poverty, like everything, is completely relative. The things I sacrifice to remain afloat are not the things others would, and vice versa. Understandable, right? There’s varying degrees of poverty, and I don’t claim to understand what impoverished, war-torn homelessness feels like. Regardless of degree or situation, the constant is this: Most poor people need a drink, because a drink is just the thing to have when poor.
For that, there’s Rascals (2311 N. Murray), a ridiculously cheap East Side bar. A cheap East Side bar, you say!? That’s right! And they’re rare. Really rare. Unicorn or double-rainbow rare (obviously more important though).
What’s rarer is their happy hour. There is only one way I can describe it: Totally bitchin’. It runs almost all day, starting at noon with $1 taps and $1 rails until 9 p.m., then $1 cans from that point on. Plus, an all day Sunday happy hour.
The incredible part of all this (I know! It gets even better!) is that one of the cans of beer they have for $1 is Moosehead. Moosehead, people! If you’re still reading this and didn’t immediately dash out the door to Rascals, I’ll tell you why it’s so important. To go out to a liquor store and buy Moosehead, it usually runs around $7, which means it’s cheaper to drink this at Rascals than it is at home. Where else is that deal? Nowhere! You will never find that anywhere, for as long as you look.
Also: Bar Dice! That’s right. For the gamblers, I saw that they were running a bar top game, and anyone could get in. I’m a huge fan of bar dice, but not keen on all the intricacies and rules, so I got too frightened to join. Instead, I got my own cup and dice and played with my family for laundry money. That’s what you do when you’re poor…you gamble away your ability to clean your clothes.
Now, for all intents and purposes, there are a lot of unsavory things about this place. It’s often crowded, mostly with young drunks (either in college and poor, or graduated from college in the last two years and extremely poor). It’s worn and dirty, and generally lacks any cohesive, interesting atmosphere. To top it all off, it sports one of the worst patios I’ve seen on a bar (to be fair, though, I’m pretty certain its sole purpose is for smokers). In the end, Rascals is a box-standard bar of the Midwest.
But the unsavory things are a far-cry from what it’s got going for itself. Last fall I judged a bloody mary contest for the bars on North Avenue, and when I was finished I went to one of the only places that wasn’t part of the contest, which was Rascals, to wait for the results. I stayed for awhile on cheap gin and tonics, because I literally could afford nothing else (having just moved to MKE with no job and no prospects). Then, for no reason whatsoever, and I hadn’t spoken a word to him before this, a gentleman to my left bought me a beer. After that, I talked to him for awhile. His name was Bob, and I’ll probably remember him for a long time, and only for buying a stranger a drink.
Maybe in the future I won’t be so terribly poor (or maybe I will, who knows). But if I’m not, if I’ve got some money, I’ll be coming back to Rascals and I’ll buy a beer for a stranger, because I’ll be able to afford it, and because maybe they’ll remember me, if only for a little while.
Like this bar? Hate this bar? Think you know someplace better (or worse)? Let me know in the comments section if you’re not shy. If you are too shy, contact me by clicking my name at the top of the article, or find me on Facebook, Twitter, (and for the really cool) Google Plus. Reader beware: I might not like the bar as much as you, and may express my opinions as such.